This includes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans and our families. While the census is an imperfect instrument for counting the LGBT community, it is still critical that we all participate and are aware of how the census relates to us and our families.
Every 10 years, under our Constitution, the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to conduct an accurate count of all Americans and households, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans and our families. The 2010 Census survey will be mailed to all U.S. households in March 2010, and it is important to our city, region and community that we all participate.
Why should I care about the census?
Census statistics guide many vital government decisions. Federal and state governments use census numbers to form congressional district boundaries and to distribute billions of dollars for social services. The census has a big impact on our political power and economic security.
While the census has been and still is an imperfect instrument for counting the LGBT community, it is still critical that we all participate and are aware of how the census relates to us and our families.
The 2010 Census and the GLBT Community.
In 2010 there will not be a survey question asking about sexual orientation or gender identity. It takes years to successfully advocate for the inclusion of new questions on the census and, simply, we are not there yet. But, part of the effort to add these questions in future surveys is ensuring we are counted in the ways we can be in 2010.
Those of us living with a spouse or partner can indicate our relationship through the census. The U.S. Census Bureau has officially announced that it will release counts of same-sex unmarried partners and spouses from the 2010 census.
Filling Out the Census
The Census form asks you to list the person who owns or rents the house as “Person 1” and then indicate how everyone in the household is related to “Person 1.” In order to be counted as a same-sex couple, one of the partners must be listed as “Person 1.” Same-sex couples who have been legally married or consider themselves to be spouses should identify the other person as a “husband or wife.” Those terms fit some – but certainly not all – GLBT households.
Other same-sex couples may be more comfortable using the term “unmarried partner” on the census form. In general, this term is designed to capture couples who are in a “close personal relationship” and are not legally married. Census forms do not provide an option yet to explicitly designate a couple united by civil union or public domestic partner registry.
So, if you are a gay or lesbian couple living together – you can be counted by including both persons on the census form and indicating “husband or wife” or “unmarried partner.” Since both of you will check off the same gender on the form, the Census Bureau will be able to count you as same-sex partners.
How do I know that the government won’t use this information to target me or my family for discrimination?
The census does and must ensure absolute confidentiality of those records in order to carry out its monumental task every 10 years. There is no record of any LGBT individual or family being persecuted over the past 20 years for taking part in the census and responding truthfully to any questions asked.
If I am trangender, do I check the sex I was assigned at birth or my gender identity/expression? What if neither of these options fit my identity?
The census asks each of us to tell the truth as we understand it. Check the box on the census form that most closely reflects your current gender identity. The census only provides male and female options to check, so you must choose one of these boxes.
What is being done to get sexual orientation/gender identity questions on the census or on other important federal survey instruments?
Many organizers of this campaign are also leading an independent coalition of strong advocacy partners to count GLBT people and our families in most major federal data collection efforts. Survey targets include: the longer, annual Census Bureau form, called the American Community Survey, which is mailed to 2 million homes every year and provides a much more detailed picture of a significant cross-section of the U.S. population; and the National health Interview Survey, a phone interview that is conducted among nearly 30,000 households annually and provides an essential snapshot of the nation’s health profile and challenges.